Definitions and Policy Statements


Academic Year

For Full Time Teaching Faculty


The academic year begins late in August and ends the following May, near the end of the month for the majority of Elon programs, with some graduate programs adhering to somewhat different starting and ending dates. The employee’s annual Letter of Agreement specifies each year the exact dates of employment. The University pays salaries in twelve equal monthly installments on the last working day of each month, unless otherwise specified in the faculty member’s annual Letter of Agreement. Any change of salary becomes effective on September 1, and the first payment on the new schedule will be made on the last working day of each month.

For Administrative Staff with Faculty Rank and Staff with Faculty Rank


The majority of staff positions are 12 month appointments, with employment from June 1 to May 31, or as specified in the employee’s annual Letter of Agreement. The Elon University Staff Manual, section V-9, specifies vacation for exempt (salaried) employees. Any change of salary becomes effective on June 1, and the first payment on the new schedule will be made on the last working day of each month in twelve installments.

Board of Trustees


Elon University is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees consisting of 41 people: 36 regular Trustees, 2 youth Trustees, and 3 ex-officio Trustees.

Definition of Faculty


As a handbook created to explain policy and procedures for faculty members, this document requires a clear definition of the term “faculty.” The term faculty is customarily used in academic and public culture to refer to educational personnel whose primary task is teaching. This definition is also used at Elon University. However, as with many other institutions, Elon, in addition to its teaching faculty, grants faculty rank to other academic affairs personnel. To this extent three mutually exclusive categories exist for individuals who may be granted faculty rank, plus a fourth category, “faculty,” that includes the other three. The four categories below explain which people are included in the various policies and procedures described in this handbook.

In this handbook, the terms “faculty,” “all faculty,” and “the faculty in general” will be used to refer to all employees with faculty rank. When a more specific subgroup is being referred to, either the title of the section or the first reference to the group within the section will indicate the appropriate subgroup. Occasionally the descriptor “faculty who teach classes” may be used to refer only to those employees with faculty rank who have actual classroom responsibilities.



The most generic use of the term “faculty” refers to those Elon University employees with faculty rank. “Faculty Rank” refers to an appointment that is given by the Board of Trustees. All persons with faculty rank attend the monthly faculty meetings. Those holding the rank of Lecturer, Assistant Professor, or above (as well as those teaching more than 18 semester hours in an academic year) may vote on matters that come before that body. Elon University grants faculty rank to all its employees teaching full-time and its part-time instructors teaching 18 or more semester hours in an academic year. But because Elon University also grants faculty rank to personnel who may be employed primarily in administrative or staff positions (and may or may not actually teach courses), the use of the generic “faculty” is not specific enough to delineate accurate inclusion or exclusion for a number of policies.

Elon employees with faculty rank will belong to one of the three categories listed below as their primary status in addition to their inclusion in the more general “faculty” category, even though people belonging to one category may sometimes perform duties associated with the other two categories.

The University assigns faculty to the categories below according to the nature of their appointments including such criteria as professional expectations and the evaluation procedures used to assess their growth and competency.

Teaching Faculty


Teaching faculty are those members of the University holding faculty rank whose fundamental responsibilities are the instruction of students, professional activities, and, where appropriate for their type of faculty appointment, scholarly or artistic forms of expression that are the basis of a university community. Teaching faculty members are subject to professional and institutional expectations outlined in this Faculty Handbook.

Teaching faculty status is limited to those whose performance assessment is linked to the completion of an annual Unit I (Annual Report for Teaching Faculty), which describes teaching, scholarship (appropriate to faculty appointment), and professional/University service activities during the preceding year. Teaching faculty also participate in an annual review process which includes the Department Chair and Dean of the school or college. Furthermore, such faculty members are normally subject to formal review by the Promotions and Tenure Committee at various points during their careers at the University. The University typically employs faculty through an annual Letter of Agreement which specifies nine months of service during an August-May period.

Administrators with Faculty Rank


Administrators with faculty rank are members of the University holding faculty rank whose positions include oversight for the University as a whole as well as management of its broader educational goals and programs. The category of administrators with faculty rank includes those members who are at the position of Vice President or above, Deans and Associate Deans of schools and the College of Arts and Sciences, members of the Academic Affairs Advisory Council who hold faculty rank, and the Athletic Director.

Administrators with faculty rank are typically employed through annual contracts, which specify a June-May period of service. Their duties are specified formally in official position descriptions maintained by the University, but may also include other responsibilities as assigned by the President or the Board of Trustees. They are subject to annual performance evaluations which include formal input from faculty and staff as well as judgments rendered by their pertinent supervisor, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and the President.

The President of the University conducts an annual evaluation of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Board of Trustees conducts an annual evaluation of the President.

Staff with Faculty Rank


Staff with faculty rank describes members of the University holding faculty rank of Assistant Professor or above who have supervisory responsibility for specific programs that provide educational opportunities for students, implement academic procedures, or otherwise support the educational mission of the University.

Staff with faculty rank are typically employed through annual contracts specifying a June-May period of service. Their duties are specified in formal position descriptions maintained by the University. They are subject to annual performance evaluations which include formal input from those they supervise as well as judgments rendered by their pertinent supervisors, Vice President, and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Elon librarians are hired as staff with faculty rank with accompanying privileges and responsibilities. (E25V) They hold faculty ranks of Assistant Librarian, Associate Librarian, and Senior Librarian. Their duties are specified in formal position descriptions maintained by the University. In addition to annual performance reviews, librarians stand for continuance review (R28M) and promotion review (P32N, P34N), defined in the faculty handbook. At the time of successful continuance and/or promotion review, librarians are granted multiyear contracts. Librarians are considered post-probationary after successful continuance review. (R24Y)

Definition of Spouse/Qualifying Partner/Dependent


As they relate to benefits provided to faculty at Elon University, the terms “spouse/qualifying partner” and “dependent” are defined as follows:

  • Spouse/qualifying partner is either an individual who is in a marriage recognized by the law in the state of residence or an individual with a qualifying same-sex partner, as determined through the Office of Human Resources.
  • Dependents are the spouse/qualifying partner and all unmarried children, including adopted sons or daughters and stepsons or stepdaughters.

Policy Statements

Academic Freedom


(Statement below in italics is repeated from the Elon University Faculty Bylaws)

Elon University affirms principles of free inquiry and respect for the right of each person to her or his convictions. Academic freedom is the right of every faculty member to be responsibly engaged in scholastic efforts to seek, discover, speak, teach, and publish the truth. Elon University will uphold its faculty's academic freedom and will protect all its faculty members against influences from inside or outside the University which would restrict them in the exercise of that freedom.

At the same time, Elon University enjoins its faculty members to exercise these freedoms in a professional and responsible fashion. As scholars and teachers, they should remember that others may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution unless so authorized.

Any faculty member, regardless of rank or contract status, who believes his or her academic freedom has been violated, may petition the Academic Council for a hearing. Following the hearing, the Academic Council will report its findings to the President and to the faculty member who initiated the petition.

Faculty Support and Safety Guidance for Targeted Harassment


This policy is designed to assist the campus community in responding to situations in which faculty members are targeted by individuals or groups outside of the university based on the content of the faculty member’s scholarship, teaching, clinical care, and/or service. While the policy most likely applies to faculty members, it would also apply to staff and even sometimes students. The policy addresses potential concerns in such situations and informs the campus about resources available to assist individual faculty members, department chairs, and other administrators.

The foundation for this guide is Elon University’s unwavering support for academic freedom and freedom of expression. The faculty’s right to academic freedom in teaching and research is protected as essential to the university’s educational mission, even with regard to controversial issues or ideas that may provoke disagreement in the public. Targeting scholars for their ideas or views not only harms those individuals, but also strikes at the university’s academic core.
Through this guide and other means, the university seeks to protect faculty against the intimidation or violence that the expression of controversial ideas sometimes generates.

This guide is “content neutral,” meaning that it is designed to offer support for faculty members and other members of the Elon community across a wide spectrum of views and areas.

This guide focuses on threats or harassment to faculty members from outside the university. Concerns about targeted harassment from inside the university should be brought to the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources for investigation. For information about policies and procedures governing harassment committed by Elon employees and or students, see the following statement and policies.

• Academic Freedom Statement
• Elon University’s Commitment to the Values of Freedom of Expression and Inclusivity
• Grievance and Appeal Processes
• Statement of Professional Standards and the Academic Council Authority to Address Charges of Unprofessional Conduct
• Elon Honor System

Roles, Actions & Resources

In matters of safety and security, individual faculty members are encouraged to make use of campus resources to assist them in responding to an immediate situation, as well as to address any concerns that arise in the longer term. Numerous campus resources are also available to support department chairs and deans in responding to external attacks of Elon faculty members. Knowing about relevant resources and guidance in advance of a crisis will help our campus respond more effectively when a situation arises.

The following information offers action steps for individuals at various levels in the university.

Individual Faculty Member

• To ensure your safety, begin by identifying your primary concerns and seek out assistance. The following suggestions may be of use in your personal safety planning.
• Report your concerns to the Provost. Meet with the Provost to discuss and clarify actions and resources that are available to address the situation. With the assistance of the Provost, develop a general plan of action to address your harassment. You do not need to manage this experience on your own. The Provost (or their designee) will inform relevant university officials of your plan and their role in its implementation.
• Consult directly or work with your department chair and Provost (or their designee) to contact Elon Campus Safety and Police. Campus Safety and Police are dedicated to the early identification, assessment, and management of incidents and behaviors that threaten the safety and well-being of the university community. The Elon Campus Safety and Police are trained to assess these kinds of situations and assist with coordinated responses, as needed.
• Consult the Elon Campus Safety and Police regarding on-campus safety. The Elon Campus Safety and Police will consult with community police departments regarding off- campus safety.
• If you believe the attackers know where you live, and you are concerned about safety in your home, create a safety plan for home and work. Elon Campus Safety and Police can assist you in assessing risk and planning accordingly.
• If you are experiencing gender-based harassment and/or harassment that is sexual in nature, see the report process below to ensure that you are fully aware of your rights and resources.
• Do not delete any messages, but you may want to disengage from reading all emails in your inbox, listening to all voice messages, etc. Preserved messages may be of use in identifying the harassers and pressing any relevant charges. See Elon Campus Safety and Police and Elon Information Technology for guidance.
• Be cautious about responding to threatening emails, tweets, blog comments, etc. Although responding may seem like the right thing to do, it may only provide harassers with additional material and serve to prolong social media harassment. If you choose not to respond, you may also want to encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.
• Protect your cyber-identity (e.g., cell phone, network access, social media). Elon Campus Safety and Police and Elon Information Technology can be of assistance.
• Know that you are not alone as an academic who has experienced this type of harassment. Connect with others who have gone through similar situations to decrease your isolation and learn from their experience. For more information, contact the Office of the Provost.
• Inform the chair and Provost (or their designee) of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Department Chair

• Contact the faculty member as soon as you become aware of the situation. Meet with them to offer support in the initial days of the attack.
• Before all else, work with the faculty member to ensure that their on-campus and off- campus safety and security concerns are addressed. Be aware that the identity of the faculty member may influence their individualized needs (e.g., parental status, faculty rank, ethnic/racial identity). With the faculty member’s consent, reach out to appropriate campus resources to address whatever issues the faculty member identifies.
• Stay in communication with the dean’s and provost’s offices to ensure a coordinated response.
• Facilitate the physical movement of assigned classrooms and/or work space if feasible, and if the affected faculty member requests it.
• Facilitate the removal of the faculty member’s direct contact information from department or college webpages and the Elon directory, in collaboration with human resources and if the affected faculty member requests it.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Dean, Associate Dean for Faculty, Senior HR Leader

• Proactively develop a leadership message that defends academic freedom, the importance of faculty safety, and the development of learning environments in which difficult issues are discussed and dissected.
• Engage collegiate HR leadership in the coordination of the university-wide response, including support for staff who may be experiencing stress due to being on the front line of answering harassing phone calls and/or may be concerned about their own safety.
• If a crisis emerges, consult with the targeted faculty member to share how you would like to publicly handle the crisis and discuss any concerns they might have. Involve the faculty member’s department chair in crisis management conversations to ensure that efforts are coordinated.
• Support the department chair in working with the targeted faculty member by offering assistance and resources.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.


• Receive concerns of targeted harassment from the faculty member.
• Meet with the faculty member to discuss and clarify actions and resources that are available to address the situation.
• Assist the faculty member in developing a general personal plan of action to address the harassment.
• Once this general plan has been developed, notify the faculty member’s department chair, dean, provost, senior HR leadership, and other relevant university officials of the harassment and of their role in implementing the plan of actions.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Office of the Provost

• Establish open communication with the affected faculty member’s dean.
• Reach out to the targeted faculty member, reiterating the university’s commitment to academic freedom as appropriate, and encouraging the faculty member to consult with their department chair for support and assistance.
• Provide tools and training for faculty administrators to use when developing immediate- and longer-term response plans.
• In consultation with the Office of the President and Office of University Communications, issue a statement (as appropriate) asserting the importance of academic freedom and committing to the safety of the faculty. The statement should emphasize the institution’s mission and values rather than comment on the faculty member’s scholarship.
• Provide resources and support to the individual faculty member and department when the attack includes personalized attacks on the faculty member’s identity and/or diversity- related scholarship or teaching.
• Inform the faculty member of any further incidents of targeted harassment and all actions you have taken in response.

Office of the President

• Maintain consistent communication with the Office of the Provost and work together, as appropriate, to issue a statement asserting the importance of free speech, academic freedom and the safety of Elon faculty.

University Human Resources

• Provide support and assistance to the individual faculty members, departmental and senior administration.

Commitment to the Values of Freedom of Expression and Inclusivity


Elon University’s Commitment to the Values of Freedom of Expression and Inclusivity

As expressed in our university mission statement, Elon University “embraces its founders’ vision of an academic community that transforms mind, body, and spirit and encourages freedom of
thought and liberty of conscience” with a commitment to “foster respect for human differences.” The University encourages open, ongoing intellectual engagement and debate through mutually respectful interactions that preserve the openness of public dialogue, animate the academic freedom central to the enterprise of higher education, appreciate human dignity and difference, and reflect the shared tenets of honor codes that guide good practice across colleges and universities. An environment that encourages diverse views and the free exchange of ideas is vital to the Elon University mission and, indeed, the aims of higher learning.

Elon’s mission highlights both freedom of expression and inclusion as cornerstones of a dynamic academic community, and as necessary for holistic student development in a student- and learning-centered educational environment. The exchange of ideas and the safety and well-being of students are both essential elements of a rich intellectual community.

Nurturing both freedom of expression and inclusion, Elon is committed to creating and sustaining a strong campus community, wherein each member critically examines multiple ideas and perspectives about the issues that matter most to our campus, community, and world. We foster a campus community that embraces an exchange of ideas, with thoughtful discussion, ongoing dialogue, and respectful debate that is both robust and free from harassment.

The marketplace of ideas works best when multiple voices speak and are heard, when serious ideas are taken seriously, and when impassioned responses are coupled with reason. This can be difficult and nuanced, for free speech is not without consequence and may include the condemnation of ideas or social isolation due to the expression of ideas that others view as damaging. The advancement of knowledge arises out of a crucible of difference, wherein risk and challenge are essential.

While embracing an open exchange of ideas, we also acknowledge and expect all within our community to act in ways that acknowledge that words have impact, and that impact is differential and contextual, influenced by societal structures, life experiences, backgrounds, and identities. We abhor and rebuke speech that disenfranchises, denigrates, and dehumanizes.
Targeted harassment, threats, and speech that creates a hostile learning environment have no place at Elon.

There are inherent responsibilities that accompany membership in an academic community committed to the advancement of knowledge and open inquiry. These responsibilities include acknowledging the impact of one’s speech, listening openly to understand the perspectives of others, affording respect and dignity to all, contending with challenging and discomfiting ideas, being thorough in one’s own inquiries, and actively engaging when speech threatens to harm others. These values are inscribed in the pillars of Elon’s honor code: honesty, integrity, responsibility, and respect. By assuming and acting on these responsibilities, each and all of us participate in sustaining the values of the academy and creating a healthy academic community reflective of dissenting views supportive of personal transformation.

Difficult conversations challenge members of our community to be logical in our arguments, capable of respectfully seeing things from others’ perspectives, careful about what we say and how we say it, committed to the advancement of knowledge and understanding, open to change in one’s own views and actions, and resilient in the face of adversity. The learning that takes place through a robust exchange of ideas and the skills of democracy that are sharpened through such exchanges are essential to our future success, individually and collectively.

Administrative Policy and Shared Governance

Administrative Policy


The administration of Elon University makes every effort to practice democracy in administrative matters. Authority for the administration of the University is vested in the Board of Trustees and in its selected administrative officer, the President. The faculty, however, has the responsibility for making the decisions that involve the teaching program of the University. Faculty committees are asked to make studies and to report to the faculty, which renders decisions within the scope of its authority. On matters beyond the authority of the faculty, the faculty may make recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The administration recognizes that the most important function of the University is that of teaching. The aim of the administration is to maintain an atmosphere that is conducive to good teaching and where faculty members can pursue the search for the truth in an atmosphere of academic freedom. In a democracy, such a freedom is obtained only as the faculty exercises that freedom and assumes its responsibility to guard that freedom against abuses.

Shared Governance


Elon University recognizes that the most effective way of conducting University affairs necessarily entails the active engagement of all of its distinct constituencies. Thus, a vibrant, inclusive, and well-defined system of shared governance is crucial to the University’s success as an institution of higher learning. Elon’s commitment to shared governance acknowledges that collective intelligence leads to better decision making and creates an optimal environment for fostering academic integrity, delivering quality educational programs, and ensuring academic freedom and democratic practice.

Elon University is composed of multiple constituencies: the Board of Trustees; administrators with faculty rank (with titles ranging from Associate Dean to President); teaching faculty; staff with faculty rank; staff without faculty rank; and students. Among the many facets of University affairs (from strategic planning to fundraising, admissions to curriculum), there are few if any that reside solely within the purview of one constituency. Cooperation, transparency, communication, and seeking out the counsel of a variety of University members should be the default positions on university matters.

Nevertheless, the constituencies that make up the University, while united in the common purpose of maintaining and furthering the University’s institutional strength, relevance, and quality, have distinct perspectives and areas of expertise. Having an effective system of shared governance recognizes that those differences, when used intentionally and successfully, enhance the University’s ability to govern itself wisely. It is appropriate, then, for the University to arrange the many rights, responsibilities, and duties associated with conducting University affairs among its various constituencies so as to best employ their respective strengths and talents.

For the purposes of defining more clearly how governance is shared within the faculty as broadly defined in the Faculty Handbook, it behooves the University to articulate which aspects of University affairs are the primary responsibility of each of the three categories of faculty as defined above. In general terms, these areas of responsibility are divided in the following ways:

Administrators with faculty rank have primary responsibility for issues that transcend individual schools, departments, or programs. These include strategic planning, coordination of the needs and interests of the various components of the University, and overseeing the institution’s financial resources and infrastructure.

Teaching faculty have primary responsibility for aspects of the University related to curriculum (including requirements for graduation, subject matter, methods and quality of instruction, and the evaluation of student work), research, faculty status, and those aspects of student life which relate to the educational process.

Staff with faculty rank have primary responsibility for programs that supplement the academic curriculum by providing educational opportunities for students, implementing academic procedures, or otherwise supporting the educational mission of the University.

The identification of a particular aspect of University affairs as primarily associated with one category of faculty is not intended to exclude other faculty from conversations or decisions on that aspect, rather to recognize that in certain circumstances, one or more constituencies should have a greater degree of decision-making responsibility than others.

Graduate Program General Policies

Graduate programs at Elon University are designed to complement the overall academic and intellectual life of the University community. Insofar as possible, both graduate and undergraduate programs use the same policies and procedures.

  • Faculty - Faculty approved to teach graduate level courses are subject to the same policies and standards as contained in the Faculty Handbook - Employment.


  • Curriculum – Approval of graduate courses and degree requirements (M34Z) is based upon the established process for undergraduate courses and programs. Following approval by the department and the Graduate Council, proposals are presented to the Curriculum Committee and then to the University faculty.


  • Instructional Program: Policies and Procedures – The policies and procedures regarding the instructional program contained in the Faculty Handbook - Responsibilities of Teaching Faculty apply to the graduate program.


  • Support Services – All University support services, academic and otherwise, are provided to graduate and undergraduate students alike. Included in these services are the library, technical services division, academic advising, personal counseling, and student activities.



  • Salary and Benefits – The same salary scales and benefits will apply to faculty teaching graduate courses as to all full—time teaching faculty at the undergraduate level. 


Intellectual Property Policy



Elon University is committed to providing an environment that supports the creation of intellectual property by faculty, staff, and students in the course of their research, teaching, and learning activities. As a matter of principle and practice, the University encourages all members of the Elon community to publish without restriction the outcome of these activities in order to share openly and fully their findings and knowledge with colleagues and the public.



The general policy of Elon University follows the long-standing academic tradition that intellectual property is owned by the author or creator of the work. Exceptions to this rule may result from contractual obligations, from employment obligations, from certain uses of University facilities, or by agreement governing access to certain University resources. Variances from this policy must be negotiated by the author or creator with the Dean of the respective college or school and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (for faculty and students) or the supervisor and reporting Vice President and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (for staff).



The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the college/school Dean, in consultation with the President when appropriate, (for faculty and students) and the reporting Vice President and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in consultation with the President when appropriate (for staff) will administer and interpret the Policy on Intellectual Property to include any necessary negotiations for Intellectual Property rights with faculty, staff, and students.

The term “intellectual property” refers to tangible results of scholarship, research, teaching and advising, including but not limited to inventions, creations, new processes, innovations, works of art, audio recordings, films, lecture notes, musical scores, dramatic works and accompanying music, choreographic works, graphic and sculptural works, poetry, literature, textbooks and other books, distance learning materials, speeches, podcasts, documentaries, slideshows, educational courseware, and tangible research materials; that is, all copyrightable or patentable works, and the patents and copyrights that reserve rights to them. The term “creator” signifies the individual(s) who invents, creates, authors, or innovates with respect to the respective intellectual property.

This Intellectual Property Policy applies to works created by all classifications of faculty, staff, and students of the University on behalf of the University unless a written agreement exists to the contrary, as well as to work completed by independent contractors and consultants, including the following:


  • The creation of the intellectual property was funded in whole or in part by an externally sponsored research program that allocates rights to the University, or as part of any agreement that allocates rights to the University. Ownership of intellectual property created pursuant to an agreement with any sponsor will be governed by the provisions of that agreement. Federally funded research has special provisions on rights to inventions. The Bayh-Dole Act gives the University title to discoveries and inventions arising from federally funded research. However, the University must grant non-exclusive use rights to the federal government. Also, if the University decides not to file a patent application on a discovery or invention and will not otherwise commercialize it, the University is required to return patent rights to the federal government.
  • The creation of the intellectual property required use of University resources (e.g. facilities, equipment other than assigned computer, funding) and/or University personnel beyond that required for the creator’s professional duties for the University. In these cases, the creator and the University will negotiate the intellectual property rights and the intellectual property rights will be shared by the creator and the University in a proportion deemed appropriate by both parties according to the use of University resources.
  • The creator was assigned or directed by the University to develop the intellectual property. In these cases, the University will negotiate a prior understanding or formal contract with the creator concerning ownership of the resulting intellectual property.
  • The intellectual property was created by administrators, staff, or other non-faculty employees in the course of employment duties and constitutes work made for hire under US law, or otherwise automatically vests ownership to the employer.
  • The intellectual property was created by a consultant or independent contractor.

Intellectual property created by students is additionally subject to the following guidelines:


  • The University makes no claim to ownership of intellectual property created by students outside the scope of an employment relationship with the University or one of its employees, and the University makes no claim to ownership of intellectual property created by students not making substantial use of University resources (e.g., class projects).
  • Students working on a project governed by a written contract/agreement to which the University is a party will be bound by the terms of that contract or agreement. In the absence of such a written contract/agreement, the paragraph #1 above will apply.
  • Students who are directed to perform specific tasks that contribute to the creation of intellectual property (e.g., research students) will ordinarily have no rights to ownership of that work, regardless of the source of funds from which they are paid unless a written contract/agreement is established at the start of the duties. In cases where there is no written contract/agreement, the party who owns the intellectual property resulting from the rest of the work will ordinarily retain ownership of the portion contributed by the student.

For Faculty and Students: In the event of unresolved disputes concerning the interpretation of this policy and/or negotiation of intellectual property rights, the Chair of the faculty member in consultation with the creator will convene a panel of three peers to make recommendations to the Dean of the respective college or school and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for consideration.

For Staff: In the event of unresolved disputes concerning the interpretation of this policy and/or negotiation of intellectual property rights, the staff member’s supervisor in consultation with the creator will convene a panel of three peers to make recommendations to the reporting Vice President and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for consideration.

Policies Governing Official Interactions Between Faculty Members and Administrators or Human Resources Personnel


When administrators or personnel of the Office of Human Resources meet with faculty members, all participants have the right to the following:
  • to be informed, at the time of the initial contact, of the purpose of the meeting; and
  • to be informed, at the time of the initial contact, of who will be present at the meeting; and
  • to be treated with professionalism, courtesy and civility throughout such meetings.
In addition, for meetings with individual faculty, all participants have the right to be accompanied by a university employee of each member's choosing to act as an observer at the meeting unless any of the participants raises a reasonable objection and provides an explanation for that objection. The inviting participant will provide advance notice of any invited observer to all parties who will be present and, unless another participant objects to the observer, the observer will be invited to attend (any objection to an observer is not grievable under the Faculty Grievance Procedure). When such observers are present, they do not speak or otherwise participate, disrupt or delay the meeting and must maintain the confidentiality of the meeting.

General Principles of Good Human Resource Relations


All University employees, faculty, administrators, and staff are expected to treat one another (and potential employees) lawfully, ethically, and professionally, at every stage of the personnel process: from recruitment to review to retirement.
As described in this handbook, faculty and administrators are invested with significant decision making roles in human resource relations, including recruitment, periodic review, promotion, and tenure. It is the responsibility of teaching faculty, administrators, and staff involved in personnel processes to know, understand, and uphold applicable employment laws and university policies.
The Executive Director and staff of the Office of Human Resources also hold important responsibilities with respect to human resources relations, including in the recruitment process for full-time teaching faculty, faculty seeking accommodations for disabilities, procedures for grievances (both general grievance procedure and faculty grievance for discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment), and retirement (including phased retirement). In all of these roles, the Office of Human Resources supports the University's processes and provides specialized resources to ensure compliance with applicable employment laws and University policies.

Policies and Procedures for Faculty Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities


Elon University supports and acknowledges that faculty members with disabilities deserve protections and the same opportunities as colleagues who are not disabled. Consistent with the United States' Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and North Carolina's Persons with Disabilities Protection Act, Elon University's non-discrimination policy and Elon University's Policy and Procedures for Accommodating Faculty with Disabilities, prohibit discrimination against qualified employees with disabilities.

It is the policy of Elon University to offer reasonable accommodations to faculty members seeking accommodation for disabilities. In providing accommodations, Elon University recognizes: (1) The faculty member alone has the right and responsibility to identify himself or herself as an individual with a disability when seeking an accommodation; (2) Once identified, the faculty member and the official Elon University designee must confidentially engage in good-faith discussions about how best to accommodate the disability; (3) Agreed upon accommodations must be made in a timely manner and on an individualized and flexible basis, and (4) The disabled faculty member must be able to accomplish the essential functions of his or her position, either with or without an accommodation.

The following Handbook sections provide the procedures for making a request for a disability accommodation and the definitions of terms used in the policy and procedures.

Faculty Accommodation Request Procedures

  1. The interactive process of receiving an accommodation under the ADA begins when a faculty member contacts the University’s designated officer with a request, preferably in writing, for such an accommodation. In the request, the faculty member should, to the best of his or her ability, provide an explanation of his or her disability. The faculty member may choose to include documentation in this initial request, but is not required to do so.
  2. The designated officer will then meet with the faculty member to discuss the request and to develop a plan for reasonable accommodation. At the faculty member’s discretion, his or her chair and/or dean may be included in this meeting. Through discussion, the participants will seek to
    1. identify the essential and marginal functions of the position (if not already done);
    2. discuss the faculty member’s specific physical or mental impairments or limitations as they relate to the essential functions, along with the potential accommodations; and
    3. identify the reasonable accommodation that best serves the needs of the faculty member.

    As part of this process, the designated officer may require the faculty member to provide medical documentation to verify a condition or to provide further information that will assist in identifying reasonable accommodations. In many cases documentation is necessary to determine the appropriate accommodation. The designated officer may seek advice from third-party experts when necessary, with the faculty member’s consent and in a manner that protects his or her privacy.

  3. The designated officer will document this interactive process and create a document that verifies the existence of the disability and summarizes the reasonable accommodations agreed upon by the designated officer and the faculty member (a document similar to the “Disability Verification and Notice of Accommodation” currently being used for students). To the extent necessary, this documentation should include a long-term plan for dealing with changes in the faculty member’s need for accommodations over time.
  4. Copies of the accommodation plan, as well as any additional information (medical or other) gathered by the designated officer, will be:
    1. kept confidential,
    2. securely stored in the office of the designated officer and kept separate from the faculty member’s personnel file,
    3. made available to the faculty member, who may share it with others at his or her discretion, and
    4. destroyed seven years after the faculty member’s term of employment at Elon University ends.
  5. According to the American Bar Association, while the “ultimate determination about the reasonable accommodations to be provided” rests with the university, the faculty member “can refuse to accept an offered accommodation.” 1
  6. Appeal of Disability Accommodation Decision:
    1. Faculty members who do not accept an offered accommodation may file an appeal with the Director of Human Resources.
    2. The Director of Human Resources, in cooperation with the Academic Council, will arrange for a hearing to be conducted by a three-member ad hoc committee (Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee) consisting of:
      1. One member selected from Elon's faculty or staff by the faculty member making the appeal;
      2. One member from Academic Council selected by Academic Council via formal vote;
      3. One Elon faculty or staff member from outside the Department of Human Resources selected by the Director of Human Resources.
    3. The Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee will select a Chair from its members by majority vote. If no member receives a majority, the Chair of Academic Council will appoint a member of the committee as Chair of the committee. The Committee Chair will determine whether the hearing will be formal or informal. If a formal hearing is held, the faculty member making the appeal may be accompanied by and represented at the hearing by an Elon University employee of his or her choosing. Reasonable provision will be made for other employees to appear as witnesses.
    4. The deliberations by Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee should normally be completed within 30 calendar days of its formation. In its deliberations, the Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee will consider all information gathered during the process defined in the Policies and Procedures for Faculty Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities outlined above, as well as any insights gained through the hearing, formal or informal. The committee may seek additional information from any of the parties involved. The Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee will make a recommendation regarding the appeal within 21 calendar days of completing its deliberations.
    5. Recommendations of the Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee as to disposition of the case will be made to the President of the University with a copy of same to the faculty member making the appeal and to the Director of Human Resources. The President may accept the recommendation of the Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee or the university’s original determination of reasonable accommodations. The President’s decision will then be communicated to the Director of Human Resources, the faculty member bringing the appeal, and the members of the Disability Accommodation Appeal Committee within 7 calendar days.


Definitions of Terms

Disability refers to a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits or restricts a major life activity, such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning, or working.

Essential Functions are basic job duties that a faculty member must be able to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Marginal Functions are non-essential, secondary job duties that do not need to be accomplished by a specific individual in order for the essential functions of an employee's job to be accomplished. Marginal functions can be performed by another individual or mechanism.

Reasonable Accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by others without disabilities.

Qualified Individual with a disability refers to an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.

Professional Boundaries


All faculty members, including any University staff employees with teaching responsibility or any position of authority with students as described below, are expected to maintain appropriate professional boundaries in their relationships with students. In keeping with the Elon University mission, faculty and staff relationships with students must maintain a central focus on student learning and development. Inappropriate relationships that potentially jeopardize the centrality of this focus are contrary to the mission of the University and counterproductive to the educational process. Intimate relationships between faculty and students or staff and students, even of a consensual nature, are inherently problematic due to the unequal status of faculty and students or staff and students. Therefore, any employee with teaching responsibility or other position of authority in relation to students may not engage in such inappropriate relationships with students. Pre-existing relationships are exempt from this policy.

An inappropriate relationship is defined as any romantic or physically intimate liaison. Positions of authority include, but may not be limited to, teaching, evaluating, supervising, coaching, or advising a student or student group.

Alleged violations of the Professional Boundaries Policy should be reported to the Assistant Director of Human Resources for Employee Relations who will meet with the student, the faculty or staff person involved, and others with relevant information to address the complaint in as expeditious and as confidential manner as possible.

Faculty and staff who are found to be in violation of the Professional Boundaries Policy and who wish to contest the findings should consult the staff grievance policy.

Statement of Professional Standards


Elon Faculty members embrace the values of academic freedom and liberty of conscience, which are consistent with the Elon University Mission Statement and the University’s historic affiliation with the United Church of Christ. Elon faculty members accept and promote the aims and objectives of the University, show an overall concern for its welfare, and assume the following responsibilities.

As educators and scholars, the members of the faculty agree that the following principles represent the standards we aim to achieve in fulfilling our professional obligations to our students and to Elon University.

Standards with Respect to the Classroom


  • To deal seriously and conscientiously with the teaching assignment, including careful planning and preparation of courses, regularity in meeting scheduled classes, clear explanation to students about course requirements, and fair and impartial grading
  • To recognize that students deserve respect as individuals and have rights that must be protected; to have a concern for academic and personal problems of individual students, to give mature advice, to treat students courteously, and to use with professional discretion personal information about students which may come to the faculty member's attention
  • To cooperate in strengthening and implementing the honor system on campus
  • To seek ways to improve teaching effectiveness, through means such as exploring new ways of presenting academic subject matter, motivating students, improving methods of evaluating student achievements, constantly re-evaluating teaching methods and on-going writing and research following Elon’s teacher-scholar model
  • To recognize that the faculty member serves as a model and exercises a great influence on students and therefore must strive to set high standards in academic excellence and in personal integrity
  • To recognize that in his/her influential classroom role the faculty member should not take advantage of his/her position by repeatedly introducing into class discussions subject matter outside the scope of the course

Standards with Respect to the Profession


  • To seek and to state the truth in their subject as they understand it
  • To keep up-to-date with developing knowledge in their academic discipline
  • To advance knowledge in their academic discipline and to do so with integrity
  • To conform to current guidelines set forth in the document "Ethical Principles and Review Procedures for Human Participants in Research" available from the Office of Sponsored Programs or the Institutional Review Board in all research involving human subjects

Standards with Respect to the Institution


  • To demonstrate respect for the right of students, administrators, and other faculty members to hold divergent opinions
  • To seek ways to strengthen the educational program of the University at large
  • To participate in committee, departmental, and faculty meetings and in traditional and special University functions
  • To assume a fair share of faculty committee assignments
  • To avoid discussion with students of suspected incompetence, misconduct, lack of personal or professional integrity, or other possible shortcomings of another faculty or staff member, unless acting in an official capacity
  • To fulfill conscientiously all the contractual obligations for the period of time agreed and to give the University reasonable notice when resigning to accept another position
  • To be clear when making public statements that such statements do not represent the views of Elon University unless authorized to do so

In addition to these standards, Elon faculty members further recognize that, in order to protect our students and the institution, conduct must be carried out within certain boundaries.

  • All employees with teaching responsibility or any position of authority with students must avoid inappropriate relationships with students. An inappropriate relationship is any romantic or physically intimate liaison. Positions of authority include, but may not be limited to, teaching, evaluating, supervising, coaching, or advising a student or student group. Pre-existing relationships are exempt from this policy.
  • All employees with teaching responsibility or any position of authority with students must avoid any kind of overt sexual harassment or implicit sexual discrimination.
    • Overt sexual harassment may be described as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other physically expressive behavior of a sexual nature where submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student may be used as the basis for academic decisions.
    • Implicit sexual discrimination or harassment may be described as conduct which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or demeaning educational environment.
  • All faculty members must avoid any exploitation of students for the faculty members’ private advantage, including the acceptance of compensation for tutoring students under their professional jurisdiction.

The Elon Teacher - Scholar


Elon strives to attract gifted and well-educated faculty members who are deeply committed to the potential of their disciplines to enhance our understanding of the human condition and the world. As teachers, mentors, and scholars, the faculty members are dedicated to modeling the intellectual values they seek to impart to students, including a learned, reflective, and critical approach to life. In these roles, the faculty takes joy in the process of inquiry and sharing their knowledge with others. As active members of the academy, the faculty participates in professional activities that keep them current and enlarge the intellectual and practical opportunities available to students. And finally, as responsible members of the University community, Elon teacher-scholars also dedicate their talents, experience, and leadership skills to activities that sustain, develop, and improve the entire institution.

The Elon faculty embraces the idea that scholarship and teaching are inseparable because scholarship is the foundation of teaching. The scholarly and professional activities of faculty connect them to a vital intellectual community beyond the walls of Elon, ensure their continuing development as enlightened seekers, contribute to the body of knowledge and wisdom, and renew their enthusiasm to engage students. The Elon community is committed to creating an environment that allows the faculty to excel as teachers, scholars and mentors.

Elon University is principally dedicated to teaching undergraduates in and out of the classroom. Faculty members strive to instill in their students a commitment to intellectual endeavors and a life-long devotion to learning and the ideals of citizenship. They share with their students a sense of the history and vitality of scholarly inquiry that emerges from disciplinary depth and expands to interdisciplinary inquiry. All faculty members recognize their responsibility to convey a foundation of established knowledge, but their ultimate goal is to cultivate informed critical thinking, creative expression, and a desire to serve the common good.

While classrooms, laboratories, and studios are the traditional focal points of an intellectual community; scholarly inquiry extends beyond these environments. As teacher-scholars, the faculty members are committed to improving the content and pedagogy of their teaching. By developing classroom environments in which all persons are respected and informed engagement is valued, faculty challenge students to develop the skills necessary to understand complex issues and topics. Simply stated, the classroom is a place to challenge students to be engaged learners and to establish mentoring relationships that extend interactions beyond the traditional classroom. The challenge to be engaged learners extends not only beyond the classroom but even beyond the confines of the institution.

Elon recognizes, values, nurtures, and provides support for innovative approaches that strengthen the linkages between knowledge and experience through programs such as international study, service learning, cooperative learning, leadership training, undergraduate research, internship experience, and civic engagement. As a consequence of this broader view of faculty engagement with students, the University encourages productive interactions that blur the boundaries separating traditional teaching activity, scholarship, and professional activity. For example, faculty members may experiment with service-learning projects that combine classroom learning with direct applications in the local community, use their professional consulting expertise to develop case studies for the classroom, or employ web-based technologies to guide and enhance student internship experiences with employers located across the country. One of the strongest connections between disciplinary expertise and student experience occurs when faculty mentor students in the process of scholarly inquiry, encouraging and supporting presentations at student research forums and professional disciplinary meetings. Scholar-mentor activities combine traditional teaching, experiential education, and professional expertise to mold graduates ready to take their place as working members of their profession or to continue their academic training in graduate or professional school.

The faculty's ability to model intellectual engagement is based on their intentional and continual development as professionals. While they share common goals, each Elon faculty member possesses unique gifts, skills, training, perspectives, and approaches that enrich the academic community. The University recognizes and values the differences between individual faculty members and encourages each to grow and develop as a teacher-scholar. Thus, the Elon faculty members reflect the comprehensive nature of the institution and the variety of their disciplines in that they are scholars, mentors, philosophers, theoreticians, researchers, artists, writers, educators, and professional practitioners.

At Elon, professional activity is broadly defined as any activity involving the serious practice of disciplinary expertise. Scholarship is essential to an intellectually vibrant and enriching community, and so it represents the most fundamental form of professional activity. Other forms of professional activity include service to the profession, developing new research skills, taking special courses, attending workshops related to one's discipline, attending workshops on teaching pedagogy, and attending conferences, performances, or exhibits. As they mature professionally, faculty may serve as consultants and accept leadership roles in disciplinary organizations.

Scholarship is a creative process of inquiry and exploration that adds to the knowledge or appreciation of disciplinary or interdisciplinary understanding. It is the serious exercise of what is being taught in the education of students -- clear goal setting, adequate preparation, intense inquiry, and critical reflection. Elon University encourages and recognizes a broad array of scholarly endeavors just as it has adopted a broad view of faculty engagement with students. Scholarship adds significantly to our understanding by: 1) discovering or uncovering new knowledge or insights, 2) generating new theories and techniques that guide discovery, 3) integrating knowledge within or across disciplines, 4) applying knowledge responsibly to solve problems, and 5) developing pedagogical innovations that facilitate the dissemination of knowledge.

Distinct differences exist in the types of scholarly activities that are valued both within and between disciplines as a consequence of the unique historical development of each discipline. However, across all disciplines, recognized scholarly work shares some common features:

  • The work results in a product, presentation, exhibition, or performance that expands knowledge, skills, or understanding that can be shared with others.
  • The work extends beyond the limits of the institution.
  • The work develops and/or expands the expertise of the faculty member and lifts the faculty member's standing within the institution and in his/her greater community (scholars, artists, researchers, professional practitioners).
  • The work is reviewed by those outside the institution who have appropriate expertise.

The tangible results of scholarship include academic publications, presentations at professional meetings, grant proposals, artistic performances, musical scores, screenplays, art exhibits, computer software, patented inventions, professional manuals, video productions, and other work determined by each faculty member's academic department. Scholarship is also reflected in pedagogical innovations (such as textbook ancillaries, laboratory manuals and experiential activities) that are shared with the academic world outside of Elon. Works of synthesis that translate knowledge for those lacking expertise or summarize current understanding for those with expertise further represent important scholarly work valued by the institution.

Elon University is a rich intellectual community committed to providing a dynamic and challenging curriculum that emphasizes learning across the disciplines and encourages students to put knowledge into practice. Faculty model a life of learning through their engagement with students and their scholarly accomplishments. As a part of a vibrant academic community, they share with their students the joy of mental, physical, and spiritual transformation, guiding them to become informed and caring citizens of the global community.

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